If you’re feeling overwhelmed by teaching online, you are NOT alone. It IS overwhelming. Your planning make take longer. There’s technology that may be new to you. Your emotions towards teaching may be a very mixed bag. Let me tell you. Every feeling you have is valid.
Recently, I reached out to Nancy Young. You know her from her Ladder of Reading and as the author of Secret Code Actions. You may also remember that Nancy was a guest blogger when she wrote “How To Incorporate Movement Into Orton-Gillingham Lessons”.
Nancy will be joining The Literacy Nest Online Conference again this summer, so be on the look out for that registration in the upcoming months. We’ll have an early bird discount, more presenters, and three months of access to all fifteen phenomenal presentations.
Nancy has been teaching online for many years. She graciously composed a list of tips to offer you. If you found any of her advice useful, please reach out to her and let her know. If you are seeking more social-emotional advice, Casey Harrison was a recent guest blogger for The Literacy Nest. Read, “Navigating The Emotional Response To School Closings” for tips to help children with managing their emotions.
I’ve seen that some of you are struggling with online teaching, so I thought I would post some advice based on my online lessons over many years.
1. If you are overwhelmed – Give yourself permission to learn one new thing at a time. (You are a learner too – let your student know that we never stop learning!) When reading some of the many posts over the last 2 weeks I’ve been incredibly impressed with all the energy and ideas BUT I want you to know that even I have been overwhelmed with info. and have been second guessing my own teaching at times! (“Why have I never used this tool?”… “Should I send families these links?) Keep it simple – and breathe.
2. If you and your students are new to this – take it SLOWLY. When I start a new student online, most of the first lesson is spent playing with the tools. No pressure and such fun!! To use the annotation tools in a lesson (or to simply change the color of the font for “color spelling”) you both need to know how the tools work. Circle words, play with the shapes, make happy faces… Play a simple game. Laugh!
3. If you are using a screen sharing that enables you to be seen – show your face. Be sure you can see their face. Exaggerate your mouth position as you practice phoneme articulation or your facial expression as you discuss the meaning of words like “mope” and “pine”. Laud your student’s creativity. Take screenshots and send or show at the beginning of the next lesson! Be goofy!
4. If your student is tired or needing a break – get them up and moving! Be sure to get up and move with them! Everybody needs to move more – and during online learning especially! Act out your keywords. Act out the meaning of words. Weave movement into skill acquisition and practice no matter what the age. Ham it up! (Note: My students often engage in movement before our lesson begins. This may be movements as we review skills, or I might simply ask them to leave the room to go up and down some stairs. With sports etc. having been cancelled and playgrounds closed, moving before a lesson starts is crucial for normally active students who are cooped up at home and may be feeling lethargic…)
5. If your student has dysgraphia, trouble with keyboarding, or has difficulty with the tools, adapt as needed. If you are looking up the meaning of a word in an online dictionary, you could ask them to dictate the spelling of the word and you type it in. Figure out what tools they like and can use successfully – and what you need to do for them. Be ready to juggle.
6. If your student is reluctant – give choice. Tell them what you want to cover in your lesson and let them decide. Be flexible. (You may need to begin with a game…)
7. To maximize the learning, I encourage you to include a parent in lessons (the parent becomes a learner too). I know not all parents can participate, but many can (and want to) yet are never invited. Since commencing my private practice fifteen years ago, my policy has always been that a parent must attend every lesson. I ask the parent-child team to practice certain things between lessons. For online lessons, parents are required to send me photos of their practice and we go over this in the next lesson. Be a team wherever possible.
8. If you are a big planner, know that your plans may be turned upside down. Hey – our “normal” world just turned upside down, so not getting to all you planned (or having to change along the way) is not a big deal. Recognize this is an unusual time.
In a nutshell, keep it simple and fun! In this time of emotional duress, I believe enjoying the learning process is even more crucial. It is so important your student is happy and feels encouraged to keep learning. Small steps will pay off as you get used to this new medium and figure out what works for you and for your students.
Nancy Young 🙂